Trojans get to celebrate title this time
The Thornapple Kellogg varsity wrestling team celebrates with its OK Gold Conference championship trophy, while the team's six individual conference champions show off their brackets, at the conclusion of the conference tournament at Forest Hills Eastern High School Friday. (Photo by Brett Bremer)
A group of 14 Trojan wrestlers took to the mats at Forest Hills Eastern Friday, and 14 Trojan wrestlers returned to Middleville with medals.
They earned a team trophy to go along with that individual hardware as well.
The Thornapple Kellogg varsity wrestling team had ten wrestlers in the finals and six individual champions at the end of the evening as it finished off an undefeated OK Gold Conference season by winning the conference tournament in Ada.
While underclassmen dominated the day for the young TK team, it was seniors Logan Moore, Adam Bush and Nick Bushman who accepted the conference championship trophy and handed it off to their teammates. All three seniors in the TK line-up Friday finished second at their flight.
Bushman was one of the few Trojans that got to outwrestle his seeding, entering as the third seed and earning that runner-up medal. Bushman was just returning from an illness and Moore has recently worked his way back from an injury to strengthen the line-up.
All six Trojan individual conference champions were first time conference champions. There was no medal ceremony or trophy presentation a year ago as the conference tournament was cancelled due to wintery weather. The group of winners for TK included freshman Zackary Gibson at 119 pounds, freshman Kyron Zoet at 130, freshman Austin Chivis at 140, sophomore Ashton Corson at 103, sophomore Matthew Middleton at 152 and junior Carter West at 285 pounds. Freshman 135-pounder Andrew Middleton joined the three seniors as flight runner-ups, with Bushman wrestling at 145, Moore at 160 and Bush at 189.
TK freshman Jackson Curtis was third at 125 pounds. Sophomore Arianit Idrizi was fourth at 145, freshman Noah Rosenberg fourth at 215 and freshman Jake Middleton fourth at 171.
“It is nice having freshmen and young kids because the growth is so much easier. They learn so much quicker. They haven't been around the block yet, so they learn as they go,” TK head coach Dayne Fletke said. “' See guys, this is why we teach this,' and then they go 'yep, you're right. We need to hit it like that,' and then they move on from that. It has been kind of fun to watch that.”
The Trojans did some shuffling this season to accommodate everyone. Rosenberg worked hard to get down to 215 pounds and earn a spot in the line-up there with West handling the heavyweight spot. Jake Middleton took on a bit of an extra challenge grappling at 189 pounds Friday with senior teammate Bush making the cut to compete at 171 pounds.
“They stepped up into some roles that are normally filled by juniors and seniors,” Fletke said of Rosenberg and Jake.
The Trojans were 67.5 points better than runner-up Forest Hills Eastern, finishing with 228.5 total points. The host Hawks were second with a score of 161, ahead of Wayland 123, East Grand Rapids 109, Wyoming 86 and Grand Rapids Christian 11.5.
Corson, Zoet, Chivis, Matthew Middleton and Carter all scored pins in their championship round matches.
Gibson, at 112 pounds, had the closest battle of any of the winning Trojans in the final round, pulling out a 6-5 win over Forest Hills Eastern's Gavin Smith. He gave up a tough-luck take down late in the opening period, but fought for an escape point in the last second which proved pivotal in the end. Gibson also had a couple unfortunate stalling penalties go against him. Smith led 3-1 entering the third period, but Gibson scored a quick reversal, let Smith up and then scored a quick take down to move into the lead.
Forest Hills Eastern had four individual champions, three of whom defeated TK wrestlers in the finals. Ethan Castillo took the 130-pound title with a 16-7 major decision against Andrew Middleton. Gabe Hassan won at 140 for the Hawks, besting Bushman 13-3. Hayden Foote took a 14-9 win over Bush in the 171-pound final. Joseph Doherty also earned the 189-pound championship for FHE, outscoring East Grand Rapids' Declan Lee 6-4 in the finals.
EGR got titles from Eran Marx at 119 pounds, Eli Kinney at 152 and John Shelton at 215 pounds. Shelton improved to 37-0 on the season with his two pins Friday.
Wayland's Adam Ordway bested Moore 7-1 for the 160-pound championship.
TK will travel to Hastings Thursday for its Division 2 Team District Tournament, and then go to Lowell for its Individual District Tournament Saturday.
“We just have to work on getting in shape, fine tuning some things, getting ready for (Thursday) night. Make sure we're healthy and ready to go,” Fletke said. “Nothing too special is going to happen between now and then, just some tweaks and some specialization for kids.”
Wayland and Hastings meet in the district semifinal, with the Trojans set to take on the winner of that match in Thursday's district final. TK took wins over both of those teams during the regular season, besting Hastings 52-18 in December and Wayland 58-15 last month.